I just stumbled on a CodePlex project called Sculpture. It’s a Visual Studio add-in / package that allows users to create services and applications in a model-drive approach.

Model Driven Architecture (MDA) has been a hot topic lately. You can see this in Microsoft’s feature set of VS 2010. They’re baking in many features to “design” systems visually and raise the level of abstraction.

Sculpture is pretty new (currently in beta), but the way they’ve implemented it is pretty nice. It’s more than just a code-generator. It appears that you can re-generate the model down into your project without loosing changes.

The architecture is modular. They use the concept of a “Mold” to describe the ability to swap various types of technologies into the stack. For example, there are multiple data access molds for doing data access with NHibernate, ADO.NET or LINQ to SQL.

They have some nice screen casts and information on their CodePlex site: http://www.codeplex.com/sculpture

In principle, this is similar to the guidance packages that we’re using. Sculpture takes things to the next level by introducing a Domain Specific Language (DSL) design surface and many other supporting tool windows to design the app.

While it is a new and untested option, it definitely worth keeping an eye on.